Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own

With the cover of the single not exactly being inspiring, and the title being clumsy even by Joshua Tree standards, there isn’t much promise bound up in this package. There’s also that utterly pointless radio edit that speeds the song up slightly, saving mainstream stations a whole precious fourteen seconds. What they’ll do with fourteen seconds I have no idea, because it produces about one advert at best, and certainly not another slow and long ballad. Even so, clearly the song had something going for it – it became the first follow-up single by U2 to reach #1 in the UK singles chart, and happened to do so just before said chart finally slid into irrelevancy.

Obviously this song needs no lyrical explanation; small newborn babies on remote Polynesian islands understand on some level that it’s the paternal version of, erm, “Mofo”. Funnily enough, it’s a song that sounds nothing like “Mofo”, and with good reason – Bono apparently never knew his mother well enough, but knew his father all too well; may have been amicable with his mother but never so much with his father; and never truly dealt with his mother’s passing but here vents out any potential pain effectively. In “Mofo” there’s nothing to reach out to, but in “Sometimes” there’s a real identification. Arguably, where “Mofo” is the pain of uncertainty, “Sometimes” is the comfort of knowing.

Musically, “Sometimes” has the dynamics perfect, and the musicianship is solid, but it’s also problematic; there doesn’t seem to be a good reason why “Sometimes” couldn’t be completely or nearly a capella, and indeed it’d be a lot more radical if it was. The criticism that HTDAAB was U2 playing it safe maybe starts here. That’s not to say the song is bad, but of all the songs off this album, “Sometimes” is perhaps the one that’s dropped most off my radar. Essentially, it’s not a song, perhaps due to both lyrical content and musicality, that’ll get listened to much (by anyone who prefers “Mofo”, anyway), which means that every time it is, the response is “shit, this actually quite a good song”. Maybe that’s a good thing; I’m not sure.

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~ by 4trak on June 10, 2008.

2 Responses to “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own”

  1. I actually do like this song, but not the album version. It seems too slow and way too long sometimes. Watching some live versions of it (U218 Singles – Milan) and its rather good. I agree with you, it is a rather safe song, as it has a traditional U2 sound to it. To me, seems to be the “Stuck In a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” from “All That You Can’t Leave Behind”

  2. […] for terrible TV adaptations of Bronte novels, and indeed it is effectively the prequel to “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own“. Indeed, it marks this like a diary entry in the F section, speaking of hip-hop and the […]

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